The season retailers both anticipate and dread is coming. Are you ready? Holiday shopping starts with a bang on Black Friday, continues Small Business on Chrismas and then the New Year. As a retailer it will behoove you to prepare early for the big shopping days. Here are some tips to consider as you prepare your staff and your store.
It sounds like common sense. If you’re not a well-known department store with decades of history and experience, don’t try to pull off multiple layers of sales. Choose one sale and do it well. Scheduling different discounts to happen at different times of the day just complicates life and creates a situation in which your cashiers are doomed to have something ring up at the wrong price. Delaying the entire checkout line on such a busy day does not make for happy customers. Simplicity is key.
If you advertise it, they will come. They may not be true of every ad you create, but it’s especially true of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Get the word out about what you have to offer. Entice people to add your store to their list of places to shop. Use social media, email lists, direct mail and/or the local paper to let folks know specifically why they should come see you.
If your sales ad includes phrases like “door buster” or “first 100 customers”, you’re asking for trouble. Words like these set a tone of competition. When crowds of people become rivals, fights and stampedes happen. Choose language that dissuades hostility instead of inciting it.
Black Friday may be the busiest shopping day of the year, but there’s no rule that says your sales can’t extend beyond that day. Spread the wealth by extending the deals for more days or having specific online deals. The goal is to make sales, not have the longest lines.
If you work in retail, you can just expect to be at work on Black Friday. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation. However, when you schedule employees to work that day, make sure they are properly trained and well-equipped to answer any question. Many businesses hire holiday help. That’s great for working in the warehouse or wrapping gifts. But for employees on the sales floor, use your most experienced workers to provide high quality customer service.
Murphy’s Law (probably) states that if something can go wrong it will go wrong at the worst possible time. Have a prevention plan and a backup plan for as many scenarios as you can imagine: selling out of an item, customer disputes, sick employees, an emergency situation, server crash, etc. The Boy Scouts combat Murphy’s Law by always being prepared; you should do the same.
Use a portable checkout system like a Smart POS (point of sale). The mobility enables you to have additional checkout centers, and the low cost allows you to have more employees working to check customers out. Either way, a POS like Ciontek - CS10 will help your store complete more transactions in less time. That makes everyone happy!
Spread items that are on sale in different parts of the store to prevent overcrowding in one spot. Leave aisles wide enough for more than one customer to navigate at a time. If you have a limited number of certain sale items, place them behind the counter so customers don't grab, tackle or fight to get one. These tricks help you to control crowds without them knowing it.
To keep your customers safe, you need to consider things like maximum occupancy, security guards and the store protocol for a medical emergency. If you're concerned about exceeding your occupancy, place a security guard at the entrance to only permit small groups into the store at a time. Security guards also help with unruly customers and shoplifters. In the event of a medical emergency, call emergency first and then document what happened to whom, when and how. You may not need the documentation, but it's best to have it just in case.
It's the holiday season. Make it feel that way with music, decorations and even smells (spiced cider, pine cones, sugar cookies, etc.). Create an environment of celebration that your employees and customers will enjoy. The pleasant experience will bring them back throughout the year.